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Gluten-free holiday favorites can be tasty


There’s no denying it — the holidays often revolve around food: the parties, cookie exchanges, breakfasts with Santa, gingerbread houses, food given as gifts. For someone living gluten-free, it can make for a difficult couple of months as they watch others indulge in the things they love to eat but no longer can.

Or can they?

Heather Zook, co-owner of Sinfully Gluten-Free in Centerville is hoping to change all that with baked goods and pizzas that taste just as good as — or even better than — their gluten-filled counterparts.

Sinfully Gluten-Free was born out of necessity when Zook’s husband was diagnosed with a wheat allergy and her aunt was diagnosed with celiac disease within months of each other.

“My husband was diagnosed in late 2003 and back then, the gluten-free food you could buy at the grocery store was not only incredibly expensive, but it also tasted awful,” Zook said. “My mom loves to bake and she kind of took up the torch for finding things to make that actually tasted good.”

As more and more people face living gluten-free, Zook and her mom, Barbara Moan, decided to make their tasty creations available to the public. They opened Sinfully Gluten-Free in 2008 and it has been growing steadily ever since. Their products are now sold not only in their store, but also in Dorothy Lane Market stores, Health Foods Unlimited and Healthy Alternative Natural Food Markets.

“We actually become a resource for how to live gluten-free. We have quite a few family doctors, gastrointestinal doctors and rheumatologists who refer patients to us to learn about the diet,” Zook said.

She added that the biggest misconception people have about a gluten-free diet is that you can “cheat” on occasion like one might do on a low-carb diet.

“This (gluten allergies/sensitivities) is a medical condition — you can’t cheat on this diet and think it’s going to be OK to have a little piece of cake or something,” she said. “The result can be bad.”

Even cross-contamination with a product containing gluten could wreak havoc on the body of someone with gluten issues.

The other misconception about living gluten-free, Zook said, is that it’s just about the wheat in products.

“It’s not just the wheat — it’s also barley, rye and most oats,” she said. “People are surprised at how many products out there contain these ingredients.”

So, how does one who eats gluten-free still enjoy delicious holiday goodies?

Sinfully Gluten-Free sells many baked goods that Zook said customers swear taste just as good or better than the gluten-loaded equivalent.

“Our red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, lemon bars and carrot cake are probably our most popular baked goods,” she said. “In fact, people who aren’t on a gluten-free diet come in just for our carrot cake. We are also known for our pizzas. You can eat here at our pizzeria, get it to go or we also have a take-and-bake option.”

Sinfully Gluten-Free also sells a product called Better Batter that is a cup-for-cup substitute for flour and is great to use for cookie and cake recipes.

“If you have a favorite family recipe that you like to make, just substitute the Better Batter for the flour,” Zook said.

Here is Zook’s recipe for gluten-free sugar cookie cutouts:

Gluten-free sugar cookie cutouts

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free white flour mix (can use Better Batter)

¼ cup sweet white rice flour

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup butter

2 eggs

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flours, sugar, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt in large bowl of electric mixer. Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembles coarse meal.

Add egg, vinegar and water. Mix on low speed until dough holds together; it should not be sticky. Form dough into a ball, using your hands and place on a sheet of wax paper. Top with a second sheet of wax paper and flatten dough to one-inch thickness. Dough can be frozen at this point for use up to one month; wrap in plastic wrap and then use foil as an outer wrap.

If dough seems tacky, refrigerate for 15 minutes before proceeding. Roll out dough to half-inch using sweet white rice flour to prevent sticking. Remove top sheet of wax paper. Use cookie cutters to form cookies. Put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of cookie.

Royal Frosting

Ingredients

2 pounds powdered sugar

1/3 cup +1 tablespoon meringue powder

¾ cup water

1 teaspoon butter flavor

½ teaspoon almond flavor

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Combine powdered sugar and meringue powder in mixer.

2. Combine water, butter flavor, vanilla and almond flavor in a bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.

4. Mix on medium speed until it looks like pudding.

5. Mix on high speed until stiff and makes peaks.

6. Separate frosting and add food coloring.

7. Add water and stir until desired consistency.


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